A few months back I came across a post online about thanking one’s anxious thoughts. As a person who often allows such thoughts to rule their life, this came as a bit of a shock. I’ve spent every day since childhood fighting anxiety and its iron grip that the thought of thanking it made me scoff.
But I read on.
The more I read the more I realized it might be a good idea to let it go. The post explained that by giving these thoughts validation – “Yes, I hear you, I see you” – we could let them be at peace. I decided to give it a try; what could I lose?
I thanked my anxiety for giving me the drive to push forward in life. This drive has gotten me through my darkest times, it got me two degrees, and it even helped me through a long and strenuous labor.
My list continued, as I thanked it for keeping me safe. I cannot tell you how many times anxiety has stepped up to the bat on this one. A more notable experience was when I was traveling in Morocco and was more or less dropped off on the edge of the medina in Fes after sunset with no directions to the place I was staying. I refused to get out of the cab and made the driver call someone from the riad to guide me. Thanks, anxiety!
In the same breath, it makes me a cautious and defensive driver, an alert parent, and a thorough planner. When some may overlook details when it comes to safety, I’m all over it.
My anxiety has instilled in me a love for health and cleanliness. After seeing family members live with health problems I vowed to do everything in my power to evade them. I remember in elementary school getting sick after eating fried chicken because I couldn’t stop visualizing what it was doing to my arteries. I could say, “Wow, it’s a little crazy that you think about nasty foods destroying your body” or I could save myself an ounce of stress and say “Hey, great job making health choices!” I choose the latter.
The love for an orderly and clean home came with age. I used to be quite the messy missy; ask my college roommates (sorry girls!). After dating my husband and learning his habits (thanks U.S. Army!), everything changed. Now I hunt crumbs and scrub toilets like a madman. The thought of seeing crumbs on the floor and countertop make me unable to think straight. Weird? A little. Thanks for making cleanliness a priority, anxious self!
I can honestly say that in the last few months my anxious thoughts have been under control, and I believe giving them a voice has helped exponentially. I refuse to sweep them under the rug, allowing them to fester and keep me up all night. Instead I say, “Hey, good point on that ridiculous way to die, anxiety. I’ll be sure to look both ways before crossing the street.” And that’s that.